University of Michigan Symphony Band Concert Evaluation

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On November 22nd, 2019, I attended the University of Michigan Symphony Band in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The location was at the Hill Auditorium, and I am familiar with that auditorium due to my high school graduation taking place there. The symphony was direct by none other than Michael Haithcock, who I met when my high school’s band attended a clinic with him. What was interesting was the piece Pinery Park, composed by Kristen Kuster, was premiered for the first time that night. It was a great piece I’d say and created numerous word paintings throughout the piece.

The first piece of the concert was Blue Shades, written by Frank Ticheli. It was a nice piece and conducted by a guest conductor, H. Robert Reynolds. I enjoyed this piece, as it gave the Clarinets a solo of their own. The solo was performed in the third octave, and the majority of clarinet players know the third octave isn’t that easy as the embouchure needs to be adjusted to play those notes in tune. What was interesting was the original player who was meant to play that solo, had a family emergency to attend to that night. The person who stepped in only had one rehearsal before the performance, to which he did fantastically.

The next piece of the concert was Pinery Park, which I previously mentioned. The piece had four total movements, each with a separate tone and mood. Although it was a long piece, I found it interesting as painted many word paintings for me. Like mentioned before, this was the world premiere of the song. It was mainly written for William Lucas, a trumpet player for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, who had a major solo throughout the piece on three different trumpets. Kuster got her inspiration for the piece from visiting Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. I have never visited that park before, but after hearing this piece, I am interested in visiting someday.

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The third piece was Serenade in E-flat Major for 13 Wind Instruments, op. 7. It was composed by Richard Strauss, a successor to Richard Wagner. This piece was one of my favorites, as it features the woodwinds, my favorite section of a symphony. The fourth piece was Gazebo Dances, composed by John Corigliano. There were four movements, Overture, Waltz, Adagio, and Tarantella, each having the musical style of their respective names. Waltz was my favorite movement as I love upbeat tones along with having the feeling to dance suddenly.

After a brief announcement period, three marches were played. The World is Waiting for the Sunrise, composed by Harry Alford, Rolling Thunder by Henry Fillmore, and “March” from Symphonic Metamorphosis by Paul Hindemith/Wilson. The World is Waiting for the Sunrise came on with this “booming” sound, and that set the tone throughout. Rolling Thunder was performed by the Michigan State Wind Symphony when I went and attended their concert, but I have to say that the University of Michigan Symphony Band played it better than Michigan State’s. There was more energy involved in the song, along with fewer mess-ups and more dynamics. I felt that “March” was a good wrap-up to the show, as it felt like it ended with the typical ending to a musical piece. The piece that I will research is Serenade in E-flat Major for 13 Wind Instruments, op. 7. I decided to research this piece as we have recently talked about Richard Wagner and with Richard Strauss being his successor, it would be fitting to.

Richard Strauss was born in Munich, Germany on June 11, 1864, with his father being apart of the Munich Court Orchestra. Strauss lived from 1864 to 1949, shortly after the end of World War II in 1945. The majority of his works were influenced by the works of Richard Wagner (University of Michigan School of Music). In November 1889, Strauss conducted the first performance of Don Juan, and the reception of the piece led to Strauss’s acclamation as Wagner’s heir (Kennedy, “Richard Strauss”). This is what started Strauss to be dubbed as Wagner’s successor.

The piece was scored for a double woodwind quintet with support from two horns and a contrabassoon, which reflect the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (University of Michigan School of Music). Seeing a contrabassoon at the concert was a first, as not many pieces of music that I have listened to incorporated the instrument. With the piece reflecting the works of Mozart, it had some elements that were dominantly seen in the Baroque period, even though this piece was written within the Romantic period. It’s a short piece I’ll have to say, having only one movement and taking about nine minutes to perform.

According to the San Francisco Symphony, the tempo of the piece is andante and the sonority brings Mozart to mind (Steinberg, “Strauss, R.:”). It has a calming romantic tone, and utilizing woodwinds thus fitting with the serenade “theme”. Additionally, the piece is in a sonata form, inspired by Mozart. There’s an exposition of themes, a development of those themes throughout the piece, and a recapitulation of those themes (Mangum, “Richard Strauss, Serenade in E-flat, Op.7). The prominent theme throughout the piece has a rich sound to it and develops when the oboes play sustained notes alongside the horns and the contrabassoon. When the theme is recapitulated, it is the “most evocatively beautiful moment in the Serenade, as the horns play the first theme with great warmth” (Mangum, “Richard Strauss, Serenade in E-flat, Op.7). It then ends with the flutes, which is meant to give a soprano voice to the piece.

Overall, I will personally say that the University of Michigan Symphony Band was better than the Michigan State Wind Symphony. I did not feel a sense of boredom throughout the concert, as every piece that was performed was played with a high amount of energy. I was well impressed with how the concert was planned and executed. I loved the location as well, as the Hill Auditorium is just phenomenal. Comparing it with the Michigan State Wind Symphony, you could say that the University of Michigan still triumphs over Michigan State, even in music. 

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University of Michigan Symphony Band Concert Evaluation [Internet]. WritingBros. 2022 Feb 23 [cited 2023 Oct 2]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/university-of-michigan-symphony-band-concert-evaluation/
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